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COLUMN: Adjusting to online classes is...different

Jonathan Roberts • Mar 27, 2020 at 9:58 PM

Things have changed quite a bit in the last few weeks. 

As some of you know (and many of you likely don’t), I am a full-time student at East Tennessee State University, in addition to being a full-time reporter at the Johnson City Press. I was hired on by the Press in April 2019 as an intern at the end of my junior year, and hired on full-time in June. It’s been tough balancing academics and work, but after three and a half years of work, I could finally see the light at the end of the four-year-long tunnel — or at least I thought I did. 

On March 12, ETSU announced they would be moving to online classes after we returned from spring break through April 9 due to the novel coronavirus. On March 20, in-person classes were canceled through the end of the spring semester, and entirely online. While the move was expected (and necessary to help prevent the spread of COVID-19), it’s been a difficult adjustment for me.   

You see, I like to have some structure in my professional life, and having in-person classes provided that. I knew exactly when I needed to be at and leave work everyday, and exactly when to be at and leave class everyday. Essentially, my days from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. were set in stone. It was like clockwork.

Now, however, that’s out the window. 

While the move to online classes has made things easy from a work standpoint — we’ve obviously had a lot to cover as of late — I am worried about passing my classes. I’m not great at online classes: I’m forgetful, and it’s hard for me to concentrate outside of a classroom environment. This is, however, my final semester and I’m fairly determined to not let a pandemic, of all things, to prevent me from graduating. 

Really, what this comes down to, for me, is memory. If I can remember to do my work and exams then I’ll likely be OK. But, much like other students, I tend to forget when assignments are due or to check Desire2Learn (ETSU’s e-learning platform) for updates It won’t be easy, but it also won’t be the most difficult thing in the world — I’d certainly rather join a Zoom meeting than write a 10-page research paper. 

So for now, I’ll rely heavily on my trusty dry-erase marker, a whiteboard and Google Calendar and push through it. I’ve made it three-and-a-half years and spent countless hours (and dollars) to get this far, so I’d be disappointed if I let anything stop me from getting that elusive piece of paper.  

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